The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Monday, 25 June 2012

Match Programme: Featherstone Rovers v Wakefield 1976

When a player completes ten years service with the same club he is granted a benefit season which is marked in various ways. Fund-raising events are held, and often a brochure is produced. As the type of club that has inspired a lot of loyalty down the years, Rovers have seen plenty of benefit years. In recent seasons Danny Evans and Stuart Dickens have put out nice souvenir publications. Previously, the club committee often chose a particular home match in a season as the benefit game for a player, and also dedicated the match programme to the purpose. In the 80s both Mick Gibbins and John Marsden had their benefit brochure printed as a home league programme, though Steve Quinn and Peter Smith both decided to produce a separate brochure in their testimonial seasons. One of the earliest examples of the benefit-brochure-as-a-match-programme was the home fixture versus Huddersfield in May 1963 which doubled up as Jackie Fennell’s testimonial souvenir.

Today’s featured programme is a neat little publication from Good Friday in April 1976 for the Wakefield match, celebrating ten years service to the Rovers’ first team of Vince Farrar. It cost 10p and the cover is one of those classic Rovers photos, Vince at full stretch diving through the Bradford defence for a try at Wembley. Great photo, great try. Inside, the format is very similar to a typical home programme of that season, so the reading content was thin. After the team lists and the adverts, there are just four pages to do justice to Vince’s career. Tributes came from Joe Humphreys of the Daily Mirror and Jack Bentley of the Daily Express. Humpreys  highlighted what a talented clubman Vince was, and a real coach-pleaser. Bentley compared Vince to Brian McTigue and pointed out that he should have been on the 1974 tour instead of playing club rugby for Cronulla. Both reporters remarked on how he had been a little unlucky to have missed out on full International honours. He had been selected as sub. against the 1971 New Zealand tourists, but didn’t get on, and wasn’t selected again. This was something he rectified later in his career, when he finally played for Great Britain v Australia in 1978 after having left Rovers for Hull FC.

Although he was being rewarded for ten years service, Vince was still only 29 and had a few good seasons left in him yet. Irvin Saxton’s page gave a rundown of Vince’s career, which at that stage spanned 253 games. I was surprised to find that Vince had played 86 games at prop, 85 at hooker, 56 at loose forward, 8 at second row and 18 off the bench. He had also gained five county caps for Yorkshire.

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